All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

27

Tamara Obrovac: Ulika Revival

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
In 1998 singer and songwriter Tamara Obrovac, from Istria in Croatia, released Ulika (CBS), an album dedicated to her grandmother. Ulika Revival revisits a dozen songs from that album, presenting new renditions informed by the 15 or 16 years that lie between the two releases. The revival is a great success, a masterly collection of strikingly affecting songs.

In a global marketplace dominated by one or two languages it's refreshing to hear a singer who remains faithful to her own upbringing and to the beauty of its musical heritage. Obrovac sings in an Istrian dialect, with a style that draws on Istrian folk heritage as well as on contemporary jazz: the result is a powerfully emotive vocal that draws the listener in to the moods and images of the songs whether or not they share Obrovac's understanding of the words (helpfully, an English translation is provided in the liner notes).

Obrovac is a talented and expressive singer—a multi-award winning performer. The instrumentalists are every bit her equal: in his liner notes Josef Engels compares them to the Bill Evans Trio, a claim that's by no means far-fetched. Pianist Matija Dedić, bassist Ziga Golob and drummer Krunoslav Levacic all appeared on Ulika: a decade and a half later they bring their added experience to bear on these songs once more. Golob's arco bass is especially expressive on the slower songs, his pizzicato playing gives real swing to the more up-tempo numbers. Pianist Dedić comps with great style, complementing Obrovac's voice. His percussive chordal playing on "Zakantaj," (Sing) for example, is powerful but never intrusive or overwhelming: his single note runs on "Divojka" sparkle. Levačić drums with invention, given freedom by Golob's rock-solid bass foundation.

Some of the songs on Ulika Revival celebrate the simple pleasures of life. On "Tanac" (Dance) she sings of a girl who wants to dance and go to the fair. "Vinova Loza" (The Vine) is a paean to wine and the labor that goes into its creation. The little song, "Cansoneita," is a joyous celebration of falling in love. Even the wordless "Prez Besid 1" and "Prez Besid 2" seem filled with the joy of singing.

There's a darkness alongside this light. Milan Rakovac's lyrics to the bluesy "Črno Zlo" (Dark Evil) are as pessimistic and downbeat as the title suggests. On "Joh" (Dear Me) Obrovac sings "Dear me, a different time will come. Dear me, I think that maybe I'll go to Hell." Strikingly, although these lyrics may be dark and despairing, the quartet's performances emphasise the artistry of the songs and in doing so they give them an air of hopefulness. "Ulika" tells of the death of Obrovac's great-grandfather, Ulika's father, in World War 1—it's a story told with sincerity and love, a very personal song to close this beautiful album.

Track Listing: Prez Besid 1; Cansoneita; Tanac; Vinova Loza; Joh; Šenica; Črno Zlo; Ojnana; Zakantaj; Divojka; Prez Besid 2; Ulika.

Personnel: Tamara Obrovac: vocals, flute (4); Matija Dedić: piano; Žiga Golob: double bass; Krunoslav Levačić: drums.

Title: Ulika Revival | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Unit Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Doug Collette
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Colours of Sound CD/LP/Track Review
Colours of Sound
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 23, 2018
Read A Blast From The Past CD/LP/Track Review
A Blast From The Past
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Rhapsody CD/LP/Track Review
Rhapsody
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2018
Read You're Driving Me Crazy CD/LP/Track Review
You're Driving Me Crazy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 23, 2018
Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Suite Theory" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Theory
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Close Up" CD/LP/Track Review Close Up
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Baby It's Cold Outside" CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Fine Dining" CD/LP/Track Review Fine Dining
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 29, 2018
Read "A Sky You Could Strike a Match On" CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018